5 to 11 December 2023
With the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR) set to be discontinued by end-2024, around 30,000 homeowners with mortgages tied to SIBOR have already switched to alternative loan packages. Meanwhile, HDB launched 6,057 HDB BTO Dec 2023 flats across seven estates: Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Jurong West, Queenstown, and Woodlands.
1. Many homeowners with SIBOR mortgages have yet to transition to SORA
With SIBOR set to be discontinued by end-2024, around 30,000 homeowners with mortgages tied to Sibor have already switched to alternative loan packages, reported The Straits Times.
However, about 57,000 mortgages remain on SIBOR-based loans, according to the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).
Notably, the Singapore Overnight Rate Average (SORA) will replace SIBOR as the main reference rate for floating-rate mortgages.
Homeowners who are still on Sibor-based loans have until the end of April 2024 to switch loan packages. During this “active transition period”, they could opt for a SORA conversion package (SCP) or any prevailing floating, fixed or hybrid – which is a mix of floating and fixed rate home loan packages.
Those who refinance their loans with another bank will face a re-computation of their loan limits and potential fees.
Those who fail to convert their loan by the end of April 2024 will be automatically moved to SCP in June, with the SCP calculated based on their current SIBOR loan margin, the three-month compounded SORA rate as well as an adjustment spread based on a five-year historical median.
Related article: SIBOR to SORA Transition: Why You Should Act Now
2. HDB launches 6,057 flats for December 2023 BTO exercise
HDB launched 6,057 BTO flats for sale across eight projects in Bedok, Bukit Merah, Bishan, Bukit Panjang, Queenstown, Jurong West, and Woodlands.
Four projects, or around 50% of the flats offered, will have a wait time of four years or less.
Flats at Sin Ming Residences in Bishan, for instance, have a wait time of around two years and eight months.
Meanwhile, two projects – Ulu Pandan Vista in Queenstown and Alexandra Peaks in Bukit Merah – are under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model.
HDB announced that the subsidies for such projects would be increased amid the rising prices in the resale market.
“Consequently, for fairness, the subsidy recovery rate for these two projects will be set at 8%, to be commensurate with the extent of the additional subsidies provided. Owners of these flats will have to return 8% of the resale price or valuation (whichever is higher), upon the sale of their flats,” said HDB.
It shared that 20% of the PLH flats will be set aside for first-timer family applicants, while 2% will be for second-timer family applicants under the Married Child Priority Scheme.
Related article: National Day Rally 2023 Summary: Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories, More Single Housing Options, and More
3. Government bumps up private housing supply on Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme 1H2024
The government has ramped up the supply of private housing under the Confirmed List from 5,160 units in GLS programme 2H2023 to 5,450 units, including 710 executive condominiums (ECs) and 515 long-stay serviced apartments, for 1H2024.
It is the highest supply on the Confirmed List since 2H 2013’s 5,960 units, said the Ministry of National Development (MND).
Notably, there are 10 sites under the Confirmed List – nine private residential sites as well as commercial and residential sites. The residential sites include an EC site and a long-stay serviced apartment site.
The Reserve List, on the other hand, comprises six private residential sites, a commercial site, a White site and a hotel site. The residential sites include two EC sites and a site “with a mandatory long-stay serviced apartments component”.
Dr Tan Tee Khoon, Country Manager – Singapore, PropertyGuru, expects the sites for serviced apartments to be popular among developers in areas with high rental demand given the business catchment.
“Besides anticipating a future pandemic that could curtail housing supply when completions are delayed, and runaway rents make a comeback, the government appears to be providing for foreign demand of rental accommodation into the future now that cross-border employment and talent mobility become active again,” he said.
He believes the sites also “allow developers to diversify property development risks and may even benefit from economies of scale when building common facilities”.
Overall, the GLS 1H024 sites can yield around 8,910 private homes, 530 hotel rooms, and 107,750 sq m GFA of commercial space.
4. Young renters to choose a new class of serviced apartments depending on the cost
While young potential renters are excited about the new class of serviced apartments, they noted that their decision to choose such spaces would depend on the cost.
Individuals aged 24 to 28 told TODAY their reasons for renting – seeking independence from parents but unable to afford their place, waiting to complete their BTO flat or needing short-term accommodation during home renovations.
Martin Layar hopes the prices for the new serviced apartments will be reasonable given that it is a pilot project. The 26-year-old management trainee added that he would only consider renting such space in “exceptional circumstances”.
Deena Anwar, on the other hand, would consider renting such space depending on the rental price and pet policies.
Some shared that they are open to paying more for the flexibility of a shorter lease, particularly if it is in a choice location.
Meanwhile, analysts expect the new category of service apartments to be more appealing to those in need of transitional housing.
Looking ahead, they expect the new long-stay serviced apartments to ease future demand within the rental market.
But with only two pilot locations now, ERA Singapore Key Executive Officer Eugene Lim said the impact would not be significant as yet.
5. URA releases four sites at Zion Road, Upper Thomson Road
Four residential sites at Zion Road (Parcels A and B) and Upper Thomson Road (Parcels A and B) have been released for sale under the 2H 2023 Government Land Sales (GLS) programme, announced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
The sites at Upper Thomson Road (Parcels A and B) and Zion Road (Parcel A) were launched for sale under the Confirmed List, while the remaining site at Zion Road (Parcel B) was offered for application under the Reserve List.
Notably, the two Confirmed List sites at Zion Road (Parcel A) and Thomson Road (Parcel A) are expected to yield 1,275 residential units as well as 535 long-stay serviced apartments.
This new category of serviced apartments – with a minimum stay requirement of three months – will “expand the range of housing options available” and ensure serviced apartments can cater to the demand for longer stays.
The tenders for Zion Road (Parcel A) and Upper Thomson Road (Parcel B) sizes will close on 4 April 2024, while that for Upper Thomson Road (Parcel A) will close on 19 June 2024.
6. Developers to be more cautious in bidding amid ramped-up supply
Property analysts expect developers to take on a more cautious stance when bidding for the 10 GLS sites that are set for launch in 1H2024, reported Singapore Business Review.
Wong Xian Yang, Cushman & Wakefield’s Research Head for Singapore and Southeast Asia, does not expect the expanded pool of sites to have an immediate effect on private home prices given that the projects will only enter the market in 2026.
However, he believes it would help temper demand from homebuyers and builders, keeping the housing market stable.
The increased number of launches will make buyers more selective and sensitive to pricing amid the high interest rate environment. With this, developers might focus on small to medium-sized sites with less competition in the future.
7. Landlords to see lower rental income amidst property tax hike
Investors eyeing private residential properties for rental income may face challenges once the property tax hike kicks in next year reported Singapore Business Review.
The hike is expected to affect investment properties and bigger homes.
“For investment properties, the impact is expected to be greater for luxury condos and landed properties, as the tax increase tends to be higher for these categories of properties,” said OrangeTee.
It noted that the hike in property taxes along with high ABSD rates, increased interest rates and maintenance expenses could lead to heightened investment costs.
Passing such costs to tenants may prove difficult amid the tighter competition for tenants.
As such, the property tax hike will likely reduce landlords’ rental income.
However, investors looking for long-term capital appreciation “may look beyond the tax increases and factor these additional costs into their future sales price”, said OrangeTee.
Meanwhile, OrangeTee believes the tax hike will help prevent property prices from rising further.
This comes as buyers may opt for smaller homes to mitigate tax and costs. With buyers becoming more cost-conscious, developers may in turn become more cautious in bidding for land, preventing land bid prices from rising further.
Related article: Property Tax Singapore: Property Tax Calculator for HDB Flats and Private Properties (2023)
8. Construction works for West Coast MRT station to start in Q1 2024
Construction works for the West Coast MRT station on the Cross Island Line (CRL) will start in the first quarter of 2024, revealed the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
Notably, the $510 million contract to design and build the MRT station was awarded to Gamuda Berhad Singapore Branch.
LTA expects the works for the underground station along West Coast Road to be challenging, due to the mixed ground conditions at the site, which include hard sedimentary rocks and soft marine clay.
Given the stations’ proximity to existing infrastructure such as commercial and residential buildings, “necessary traffic and utilities diversion works will be implemented in phases to mitigate the impact to residents and other stakeholders,” said LTA.
West Coast MRT station is part of CRL Phase 2, which is expected to commence passenger service in 2032.
9. Condo maintenance fees to rise further amid higher costs
Maintenance fees in private condominiums have steadily increased over the last decade, with the upward trend likely to continue amid rising materials, labour and utilities costs and overall inflation, reported The Business Times.
Singapore homeowners have seen the fees increase by up to 30%, reaching as high as $2,000 per month at some older luxury condos.
These fees cover the upkeep of common areas and facilities such as swimming pools, landscape greenery, fitness facilities and security.
The hike in fees is attributed to various factors including increased labour and material costs, higher-priced contracts for cleaning, landscape and security services as well as higher water and electricity tariffs. The implementation of the progressive wage model (PWM), which raises wages in certain lower-wage sectors, also contributes to the expected increase in fees.
While bigger developments generally charge lower fees since more units are sharing the cost, inflationary pressures and the maintenance of specialised facilities continue to push fees upwards.
10. Three sisters took younger brother to court over property left by father
Three sisters took legal action against their younger brother after their father died, leaving the brother as the sole surviving joint tenant of a property used to operate the family’s hardware business, reported CNA.
The brother claimed that as his father’s favoured child, he had sole ownership of the property. The sisters, on the other hand, wanted the property’s net sale proceeds to be equally divided among the four siblings.
The court ruled in favour of the sisters, pointing out that the property was meant to be equally shared among the siblings.
The judge relied on circumstantial evidence, including the mother’s will in which she equally divided her state among the four children.
The judge accepted the arguments of the sisters that the father named the son as a joint tenant so that he could secure favourable terms for the loan. This comes as the son had a stable job with a high income at the time.
With this, the son was ordered to pay his sisters’ legal costs.
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Marcus Lee, Content Executive at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.